You Can Learn How To DJ In VR

How learning real-world skills can turn out to be the killer app for VR & AR.

“We live in a world where the entire history of mankind, and all its knowledge, is available through Google and other resources, yet the average adult spends only 5 minutes per day learning, compared to 50 minutes per day on Facebook and social media,” muses Tom Impallomeni, Co-founder and CEO of Tribe VR.

Yet Tribe’s founding team—which includes veterans from companies like Pixar and High Fidelity—are determined to change all that, by developing their company into the ultimate immersive learning platform.

“We have all independently reached the conclusion that the killer application of VR/AR is learning real-world skills,” Impallomeni says, adding that using the space around us to learn in an interactive way is something that will come naturally to a generation of millennials who have grown up with 3D environments such as Minecraft.

Tribe’s VR DJ school—now available on Oculus—does this by allowing anyone to learn to DJ and mix music using a virtual deck that mimics the setup used in nightclubs around the world. Wannabe DJs learn controls and techniques from virtual DJ mentors and mix sets.

“It’s such a natural fit for VR,” says Impallomeni. “A multi-sensory experience that opens up a whole world of possibilities for learning and creation.” Tribe is currently working on adding several new lessons for aspiring DJs including “beat matching basics”, “mixing techniques” and a series of DJ masterclasses.

Impallomeni describes his team and himself as a bunch of “passionate musicians and frustrated wannabe DJs,” making the choice for this partnership something of a natural fit when they were considering use cases for the platform. They realized that learning to DJ is perfect for VR because the methods usually available for those wanting to learn the mind boggling range of controllers—watching videos, asking friends to teach you, buying the kit, and going to DJ school—are far from ideal.  

“VR removes these frictions and inefficiencies by enabling users to learn on virtual decks, in a fully interactive environment using 6DOF (six degrees of freedom) in the space around you,” said Impallomeni. “Users can learn by doing, not by watching or listening. Fans can repeat lessons, and practice in freeplay mode over and over as an AI mentor guides them through the process. It’s just a better overall way to learn.”

Users can take DJing lessons—learning the basic mechanics and techniques—as well as practice in Free Play mode with tracks curated specially for them. They can then cue and play tracks, beat match, scratch and mix using a virtual CDJ-style setup.

“VR opens up new ways for DJs and artists to connect with fans around the world, to make music production and DJing more accessible… this will change music for the better,” believes DJ Andrew Moore, who is working with Tribe to develop unique content and lessons for the platform.

Moore is no stranger to using technology in his performances: In 2005 he created the iconic Kryoman robots, which have since gone on three world tours to complete over 1000 shows in 52 countries, performing with the likes of Black Eyed Peas, Nikki Minaj, Akon, Ludacris, Pitbull, Kelly Roland and Usher.  

Kryoman’s top hits will be available in Tribe’s free play zone: “I hope fans enjoy mixing using my music,” says Moore, adding that he’s excited about the potential that VR offers for the music industry.

Pyramind, a San Francisco-based music school with extensive experience in teaching DJs and Music Producers, is also working alongside Kryoman and Tribe to develop these immersive learning experiences. “We see VR and AR as the next step in improving the way people learn and create music,” says its CEO and Co-founder Gregory Gordon.

The plan is for Tribe to expand beyond DJing into areas such as music production, eventually allowing users to create their own lesson content and broadcast their lessons to others. “We are adding more lessons, content and features all the time, and will soon introduce virtual masterclasses, where DJs and music producers both teach skills and tell their back stories, explaining their favorite musical choices, and hopefully inspire our users to create great new things.”

Impallomeni says 2018 will be a huge year for VR, and believes the industry is moving towards XR—Cross Reality—as a catchall term that covers VR, AR and mixed reality. Ultimately, he envisages Tribe becoming available across all these mediums as the market converges.

“The idea is that you will be able to learn immersively and interactively whilst using the space around you, learning techniques and methods from the masters, and interacting with virtual mentors. We firmly believe in the power of immersive media, and feel that in future, training without VR and AR will seem nonsensical.”

About the Scout

Alice Bonasio

Alice Bonasio runs the Tech Trends blog and contributes to Ars Technica, Quartz, Newsweek, The Next Web, and others. She is also writing VRgins, a book about sex and relationships in the virtual age. She lives in the UK.

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